Help with age please

Vintage Gruen Watch Discussion Forum
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Gerryd
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Re: Help with age please

#11 Post by Gerryd » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:11 am

I'm posting the outside back of the watch and I have no idea of the significance of the engraving.
Liz your watch have seen some life do you wear them, do they run? I can see clearly the Gruen on the watch face thanks.Image

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Barney Green
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Re: Help with age please

#12 Post by Barney Green » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:41 am

Wow!
OK, then I have to admit that my knowledge about the pre 1918 watches has to be revised. Definitely this is a valid Gruen and yes, it should be about 5 years older than I assumed.

Great watches shown here which now widend my horizon. So these watches were early imports with swiss made cases and of cause movements. Should check my early ads for hints.

Thanks for sharing!
Barney

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Barney Green
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Re: Help with age please

#13 Post by Barney Green » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:55 am

The outside back would date it to either 1915 or 1918. The 1918 engraving might have been added later.

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timeliz
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Re: Help with age please

#14 Post by timeliz » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:14 am

Gerry,

Interesting, and curious engraving.
If the watch was a gift for say 10 years of service,
why did she receive it three years later?

Sadly, neither of the two watches are running.
I have a significant collection of Gruens along with smattering of other makers but unfortunately
do not have the skill required to service them. I can take things apart really well...
the reassembly is the hitch. :cry:
So, as funds & time allow, one by one they may see a watchmaker.

Thanks for sharing your watch!

Liz

Gerryd
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Re: Help with age please

#15 Post by Gerryd » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:04 am

Thanks again for the responses they answer some question but throw up others?
My question is to Barney, but others can join in if they want, you say that the watches were imported but to where the only thing I'm pretty certain of it was not the UK as there are no import stamps. You also say that the back is date around 1912-1918 but surely the whole case would have been made at the same time? I agree about the inscription that could have been added at almost anytime it looks like two separate ingravings. The stamp 41 on the centre part, front cover and rear cover is not part of the casting so I would suspect they were stamped at the same time?
Do we know where the largest market for these watches was USA or Europe? I suspect were ever its and was who ever bought this had some money anyway.
Barney these are questions not challenges.

Gerry

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Barney Green
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Re: Help with age please

#16 Post by Barney Green » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:28 am

Hi Gerry,

thanks for asking! I see you questions as challenging questions in a positive way.
The largest market for Gruen has by far always been the US. They really failed selling their watches in Europe and started a big attempt late 20s early 30s by joining the Alpina society and starting the Alpina Gruen Guild. Gruen had a sales office in Geneve covering the European sales and in the 50s to 70s sold especially the "Gruen Geneve" watches in Europe (and a few like the Airflight in the US).
But in general the vast majority of watches were sold in North America (including Canada, but this is another chapter).
So when having said "imported" I meant the US. The regular way for Gruen was to built the movements in Switzerland and the cases in the US, either from their own factory or from Wadsworth, Star, Pioneer or others. Swiss or later French cases were an exception. The watches which were imported completely (case and movement) were internally called "Imports". With Weber Gruen had their own case factory in the Guild in Switzerland, but they also used other manufacturers like Huguenin Freres which were famous for their silver Niello watch cases. Your watch case may have come from them.
The wristlets became modern in Europe years before the US and Gruen started to sell themin the US in 1911 as a trendsetting experiment. I know that the first ones were sourced in Switzerland and completely imported, I do not know when they started their own wrist watch case production, but it definitely has been a few years later.
My dating remark because of the engraving was of cause covering the whole case not only the case back. It also looked to me as two different engravements so I think that the watch was a gift in 1915 for probably the tenth anniversary and 1918 there was an important date for the owner. May be the husband safely came back from WW I?
From your question I anticipate that you are either living in the UK or sourced the watch there. It might be one of the few watches Gruen sold in Europe. May be the German sounding Gruen on the dial was removed already in 1918 because of bad memories of WW I experiences.
The 41 stamp is the serial number of the watch case from the case manufacturer.
I found two enameled Gruen watches having been advertised in the US in my advertisment collection. The first one is from 1913, the watch was described as enameled silver with enameled watchband, so at least with the same finish as yours. Nothing said about the shape. It did cost $34 at that time, unfortunately it was not pictured. The other one was from 1918, but with gold case and set with diamonds around the bezel (cost: $125).

Gerryd
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Re: Help with age please

#17 Post by Gerryd » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:54 am

Barney
Thanks for your very informative answer, $34 in 1913 was a lot of money. I think the WW1 connection certainly makes a lot of sense and would account for no external signature. You are correct in your assumption about my location to being in the UK, I have a number of import marked watches from the early 20th century, so much easier when there is a mark. The strap is not so un similar to those used by soldiers of both sides in the the WW1 conflict thought not always of silver.
I am going to accept that the watch probably started life some where else but has made it to the UK at some stage. I had not seen this make before and took a bit of a punt bought a as a gift so i don't suppose it will get sold for the time being.
I will give it a service shortly but for the moment its ticking again and keeping good time, the movement is not un similar to those I find on WWII military watches.

Gerry

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Barney Green
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Re: Help with age please

#18 Post by Barney Green » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:40 am

Gerry,

which two letters are below the silver content stamp? F.G.? Whatever it is, I think this is the case maker marking.

Barney

Gerryd
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Re: Help with age please

#19 Post by Gerryd » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:36 pm

Barney

the two letters are RG

Gerry

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Barney Green
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Re: Help with age please

#20 Post by Barney Green » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:22 am

Gerry,

that sounds reasonable! Robert Gygax is (or better the company of his sons is) a hot candidate to have built the case. The factory was located in St. Imier were Gruen had a factory at that time as well. Mr. Gygax was also running a glas and porcelain factory and could there have easily done the enameling of case and strap. With the beginning of 1914 his sons took over the case factory. And they registered the R.G. mark in 1931.

Barney

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